Nebraska in the national news: May 2019

· 10 min read

Nebraska in the national news: May 2019

A Husker-led, drone-based investigation of severe storms received a great deal of national media attention in May. The stories were among 65-plus featuring University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty, students, alumni and programs during the month.

The Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) project, the largest-ever study of its kind, launched May 15 and runs through June 16. Adam Houston, associate professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences at Nebraska, is coordinating the effort. The project involves more than 50 scientists and students from Nebraska, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech University and the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

The goal of the project is to better understand supercell thunderstorms, which spawn the most-destructive tornadoes, to improve forecasting and ultimately save lives.

“There are structures within the storm that we either know exist — and we just don’t have enough information about them — or we think exist based on preliminary evidence,” Houston told Nature for a May 14 article.

Stories on the TORUS project also appeared in five Nebraska media outlets, including KETV and the Omaha World-Herald, as well as The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog (1, 2), The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, the Weather Geeks podcast, Drone Below, Drones Crunch, Dronelife, KDVR, KOCO, KSAL, KWCH, Rotor Drone, the Salina Post, UAS Vision,, WeatherNation and WHNT.

Other coverage:

Kenneth Kiewra, educational psychology, was interviewed about how parents can help their children discover and develop talent for a May 2 article in the National Alliance for Youth Sports’ Sporting Kid Live.

Jody Green, an urban entomologist with Nebraska Extension, was interviewed for a series of articles in Reader’s Digest on bed bugs. She discussed the difference between bed bugs and fleas (May 2); how to identify and treat bed bug bites (May 2); the bed bug life cycle (May 3); the best mattress covers for preventing an infestation (May 3); what bed bug bites look like (May 6); and how to get rid of the insects (May 22).

Chigozie Obioma, English, was quoted in a May 3 story about hope from Wisconsin Public Radio’s “To the Best of Our Knowledge” series. He said that people in his native Nigeria are innately hopeful, no matter their external situation.

He was also featured in a May 21 article in the Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense on promising authors of African or Afro-descendant origin.

Obioma’s second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” was highlighted in a May 23 Time magazine article on the best fiction books of 2019 so far. His first novel, “The Fishermen,” was a finalist for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.

Brett Ratcliffe, entomology, was quoted in a May 6 Washington Post article on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently changing the status of the American burying beetle from “endangered” to merely “threatened.” He disagreed that the insect has significantly recovered over the past 30 years, saying it only seems more prevalent because more field tests have been conducted to find it. The story was picked up by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and San Francisco Gate.

Bill Watts, director of advising and career services at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln; and Mackenzie Griffith and Kris Scott, recent Husker graduates; were interviewed for a May 7 Omaha World-Herald article on the promising job market awaiting recent college grads. The story was picked up by five Nebraska media outlets and nearly 50 others across the country.

Ian Borden, theatre arts, recently visited Spain to teach stage combat and choreograph fights and battles for a production of the play “Numancia.” He was featured in a May 7 article on the 103 Málaga website.

Nikos Dimotakis, management, was interviewed for a May 8 DW article on workplace feedback. Managers should offer specific feedback that employees can improve upon, he said.

Husker alumnus Carson Vaughan was interviewed about his book “Zoo Nebraska” for a May 9 Los Angeles Review of Books article.

Kathleen Lodl, Nebraska 4-H program administrator, was cited in a May 10 Stateline article about the agriculture industry of the future requiring more people with science and technology skills. In Nebraska, there is a push to reach those who may not have heard of 4-H or who live in underserved communities, Lodl said. The article was picked up by more than 35 media outlets across the country, including The Huffington Post.

The university’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities has compiled and digitized court documents from more than 500 slave freedom petitions and published them in an online database titled “O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law and Family.” The Lincoln Journal Star published an article on the project May 12. The story was picked up by seven other Nebraska media outlets and a few other national outlets, including U.S. News and World Report and The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

A multi-institutional research team led by Erica Ryherd, architectural engineering, has found that implementing quiet time in neonatal intensive care units could improve infant health outcomes. The researchers found that during hours when conversations were reduced and lights were dimmed, infants’ heart rates were healthier and stronger. Stories on the research appeared in the Daily Mail, HealthDay and a few other media outlets.

Amy Millmier Schmidt, biological systems engineering, was quoted in a May 13 Successful Farming article on the dangers of using flood-damaged feedstuffs. She said wet forages and hay no longer in water can generate heat from microbial activity and are a fire hazard.

The success of wildflowers seeded in roadside ditches hinges on neighboring land types, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers and the Nebraska Department of Transportation. High Plains Journal ran a story on the study May 14.

Paul Royster, University Libraries, wrote a May 15 piece for The Conversation on internet rot — particularly user content disappearing from free third-party services such as MySpace. He wrote that where there is economic incentive to keep and use data, it may exist for a long time. However, where content is less valuable to whomever owns the servers, there is less incentive to invest in preserving it. The piece was picked up by The Houston Chronicle, New Haven Register and a few other media outlets.

The University of Nebraska Athletic Department was involved in a multi-institutional review of cultural influencers and barriers to elite athletes seeking treatment for mental-health issues. The study found that many athletes don’t seek help for such issues due to the stigma, as well as busy schedules, gender stereotyping and lack of understanding of the issues. HealthDay published an article on the study May 17.

Robert Schub, political science, co-wrote a May 18 piece for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage on possible infighting between President Donald Trump and his advisers regarding U.S. policy on Iran.

Elisia Flaherty talked to the Lincoln Journal Star for a May 18 article about how Medicaid helped her when she was pregnant with her first child, Samuel Harvey. Harvey, a recent graduate of Grand Island High School, earned a perfect score on his ACT on the first try and has accepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The story was picked up by the Beatrice Daily Sun, Columbus Telegram, Fremont Tribune, Norfolk Daily News and a few other media outlets across the country.

A 2006 study by Husker researchers was cited in a May 20 Forbes article offering tips for effective conference call meetings. The study showed that the perception of noise impacts the performance of people in mental work.

The university’s Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff is growing a test plot of dandelions whose roots produce rubber. The plot is part of a multi-state collaborative project led by Ohio State University to see if rubber and biofuels can be grown and processed in the United States from dandelions. Stories on the project appeared in, the Fence Post and Nebraska Farmer.

Anthony Schutz, law, was interviewed for a May 22 Stateline article about a push for new “right to farm” laws in several states, including Nebraska. In response to legal activity in North Carolina — a major hog-producing state — agriculture interests have successfully lobbied for new state laws to protect farms from litigation over foul smells, loud noises and declining water quality. Schutz said the issue didn’t need a solution on the national scale. The story was picked up by more than a dozen media outlets.

Clay Cressler, biological sciences, and colleagues have proposed an answer for why a small percentage of people struggle to expel parasitic worms that can take up residence in the intestines. Stories on the research appeared in Nebraska Ag Connection, 7thSpace,, BioPortfolio, The Medical News, Medicine News Line,, Science Daily and Scienmag.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln was mentioned in a May 22 Business Insider feature on the 20 best cities for college graduates looking to start their adult lives. Lincoln came in at No. 19.

Matt Spangler, animal science, was featured in a May 22 Beef magazine blog post on using economic selection indices to purchase bulls.

Josephine Potuto, law, a former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee, was quoted in a May 24 Inside Higher Ed article on Division III University of St. Thomas recently being removed from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference over issues of “competitive parity.” Potuto discussed the split that occurred about 10 years ago over disparities in wealth and size among Division III institutions.

Frans von der Dunk, space law, was a recent guest on the Good Law/Bad Law podcast. He discussed the intricacies and challenges of space law.

Five companies recently took part in the NMotion Spring Cohort, a seven-week program that helps businesses develop new strategies. The event ended May 22 with each company making a five-minute pitch. The Lincoln Journal Star and Silicon Prairie News published articles on the cohort.

Jeff and Trish Buchanan recently commissioned a science-themed cake to celebrate their son, Justin, earning a doctoral degree from Nebraska. Justin studied the costs to fruit flies of mounting an immune response. The cake, which featured a microscope with gumdrop knobs and chocolate fruit flies, was mentioned in a May 26 Chemical and Engineering News brief on science-themed cakes.

John Hibbing, political science, was featured in a May 27 episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast. He discussed how political views may be influenced by biology.

Hibbing was also quoted in a May 30 article in The Hill on Republican senators possibly facing nasty primary fights in 2020. He said he was skeptical that Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, would face a competitive Republican challenger since the senator has sided with the president on recent issues.

Herman Batelaan, physics and astronomy, and colleagues recently submitted a research paper that makes the case for the existence of a non-Newtonian, quantum force that influences the flight of electrons. and ran stories on the study.

Brad Lubben, agricultural economics, was interviewed for a May 31 Lincoln Journal Star article on a recent hike in corn prices known as a “weather rally.” Lubben said commodities traders are worried about the size and quality of this year’s corn crop. After heavy rain and extensive flooding this spring, planting is well behind schedule across the corn-growing states. The story was picked up by the Beatrice Daily Sun, Columbus Telegram, Fremont Tribune, Norfolk Daily News and 20-plus other media outlets.

Matt Cohen, English, wrote a May 31 piece for the New York Daily News on what author Walt Whitman might think of America’s current political climate. Whitman often wrote about the country’s politics failing to live up to its ideals and paid particular attention to presidents, Cohen wrote.

Faculty, administration, student and staff appearances in the national media are logged at
 If you have additions to this list, contact Sean Hagewood at or 402-472-8514. If you have suggestions for national news stories, contact Leslie Reed at or 402-472-2059.

Recent News